Monthly Archives: June 2010

Mousse and Other Nonesuch Things.

I have a few pet peeves. Ok maybe more than a few, but I won’t make you labour through reading all that, so here are just a few:

Dried toothpaste in the sink. A sticky nightmare to clean off and you just know it’s been in someone’s mouth.

The word flimsy. It sounds too much like my own name. Call me crazy, but I don’t like it.

When people mispronounce or misspell words we use everyday like supposebly for supposedly, presentating for presenting and know for no. That’s no way to communicate people.

A sink filled with dirty dishes next to an empty dishwasher. No further explanation is necessary.

Soap scum. So getting clean somehow makes the shower dirty. Really? How fair is that?

Bugs. Just get your creepiness out of my house! Nobody likes you!

Fingerprints on my glasses. Call me obsessive compulsive, but I prefer to see out of those things.

When you peel the lid off an open tub of cream cheese and the last person to use it has left the metal seal on it.

That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you experiment with a completely new recipe for the first time and you’re sure something horrible is going to go wrong.

The best part is when that bad feeling is replaced by a good feeling that causes you to pump your fists in the air and jump up and down. Yeah, I love me some good feelings.

The whole afternoon I was worried about how the mousse layer would turn out in my Lemon Blackberry Mousse Sponge Cake. I’d never made a mousse layer in a cake before. It would surely be a catastrophe. I nervously opened the fridge dozens of times to check on it and I fretted over it when I gingerly poked the parchment paper with my finger. I was sure that when I peeled back that parchment paper that all heck would break loose and my mousse would come pouring out like some unstoppable force. Then I’d have to cry in a puddle of my own purple failure.

Luckily that was all in my imagination. I mean, look at it! I don’t like to brag, but come on really, It’s perfect! You know how much I like to make things pretty and I’m proud to say this is one of the prettiest things I’ve ever created. Pretty and pretty tasty to boot.



Lemon Blackberry Mousse Sponge Cake

Source: My imagination.

Sponge Cake:

3 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup cake flour (or substitute)
5 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Blackberry Mousse:

1 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 cup blackberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp unflavoured gelatin

Lemon Glaze:

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
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To Make the Sponge Cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the center. Butter and flour two 9 inch cake pans and set them aside.

In a medium bowl with an electric mixer blend the water, vanilla, egg yolks and sugar until it gets light and fluffy. Add the flour and mix it until it’s smooth.

In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and continue whipping it until stiff peaks form.

Gently fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites until it’s combined. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans and smooth out the tops. Bake them for 20 – 25 minutes until the tops get golden brown and are springy to the touch.

Let them cool on cooling racks then pop them out. You might need to run a small knife along the edges to help the process along. If the edges are a little wonky like mine were trim off the uneven edge with a sharp knife using an upside down plate or bowl as a template. Place the bottom layer of Sponge Cake on your serving plate then wrap a ring of parchment paper snugly around it and tape the ends together to pour the mousse into. Wrap the other layer of Sponge Cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate it until you’re ready to use it.

To Make the Mousse:

In a large bowl with an electric mixer whip the cream reserved for the mousse until soft peaks form. Put it in the refrigerator to chill and use when you’re ready.

In a small sauce pan on medium heat combine the blackberries and sugar. Stir it until it becomes liquid then mix in the gelatin and remove it from the heat. Let it sit for 5 minutes then fold in the chilled whipped cream.

Pour the mousse on top of the bottom layer of Sponge Cake with the prepared parchment paper edge. Allow it to chill in the refrigerator 2 – 3 hours until the top is set and no longer shiny.

Mix together the powdered sugar and lemon juice until there are no more lumps. Add more sugar or lemon juice to get your desired consistency for the glaze. Carefully remove the tape and peel off the parchment paper to reveal the mousse. Place the top layer of Sponge Cake on top and glaze it with the lemon glaze until the edges drip slightly. Enjoy!

Good For What Ails You.

I get the hiccups. Quite frequently. It’s an annoyance. It’s a curse.

Now let me be clear. We’re not talking those aw-isn’t-that-cute-she-squeeks-like-a-mouse kind of hiccups. We’re talking feels-like-I’ve-been-kicked-in-the-throat-by-a-workhorse-gasping-for-breath-like-I’m-drowning kind of hiccups. These are grown up hiccups people.

The man to hold the world record for the longest case of hiccups is named Charles Osborne who had the hiccups for a full 69 years. That’s right. I googled it. Experts estimate he hiccuped 430 million times in that time period. By my calculations that’s approximately 17,300 hiccups per day and 12 hiccups per minute. I don’t think I’ve ever had hiccups for longer than 69 minutes and a mere 10 minutes into it I was already about ready to rip my hair out.

I know all the remedies. Oh, you think you’re so smart. You think you have one I’ve never heard of. You don’t. I’ve swallowed spoonfuls of sugar with no results other than a mild sugar rush. I’ve rather awkwardly attempted a headstand which only ended in falling in a heap on the floor and bruising my knee. I’ve drank glass after glass of water upside down and backwards which only seemed to make it worse. I’ve had people scare the crap out of me repeatedly and the hiccups always return. And so on and so forth…

My problem is I have hiccup days. I hate those days. Most people get hiccups once, they cure them and they don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the day. That would be nice. With me I seem to go days without getting the hiccups and then one day I get them several times. The hiccup fairy comes and goes as she pleases all the while driving me batty. It’s like a cruel joke. I rejoice in curing one case of hiccups only to have to deal with yet another half and hour later. Even worse, the cure I used on the last case of hiccups doesn’t ever seem to work on the next bout.

The only similarity between all those hiccup remedies is distraction. Of course if you drink a glass of water upside down you’re going to be more concerned with spilling water all over yourself than the hiccups you’re curing with it. If you eat a slice of lemon you’re going to be too busy making that attractive puckered sour puss face to worry about your hiccups. If a certain someone throws out their arms and screams at you suddenly in their thundering baritone voice you’re going to be trying so hard not to pee yourself you’re not even going to remember you had hiccups.

I’ve heard you get hiccups from worrying about something. That might explain it. I get hiccups once and I spend the rest of the day worrying so much about them returning that they do. It’s a catch 22. Curse you hiccups! Why must you plague me?

Now onto something less crazy and more tasty. These White Chocolate Apricot Mousse Lace Cups are the polar opposite of those cursed hiccups. Well sort of. They aren’t annoying. They aren’t embarrassing. They aren’t downright uncalled for.

They are pretty. They are adorable. They are definitely delicious.

Perhaps they are the unsung cure for hiccups. Only time will tell.



White Chocolate Apricot Mousse Lace Cups

Makes 12 individual desserts.

Source: My imagination.

1 cup white chocolate, chopped

1 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 cup apricots, pealed and chopped (about 7)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp unflavoured gelatin

1 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
Almonds, sliced and toasted for garnish

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Spray a muffin tin with non stick cooking spray then line it with plastic wrap pressed well into each cup then spray it again and set it aside. The first spray is to give the plastic wrap something to adhere to and the second one is just for good measure. Be prepared for this step to be time consuming, frustrating and expletive inducing. It does work eventually though. See?


In a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water melt the white chocolate until it’s smooth. Scoop it into a small piping bag fitted with a tiny round tip and pipe the chocolate back a forth inside the prepared muffin cups making sure to evenly reach the sides and bottom of each cup but not letting the streams of one chocolate lace cup to touch another. Put the muffin tin in the freezer to set the chocolate.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer whip the cream reserved for the mousse until soft peaks form. Put it in the refrigerator to chill and use when you’re ready.

In a small sauce pan on medium heat combine the chopped apricots and sugar. Stir it until it becomes liquid then mix in the gelatin and remove it from the heat. Let it sit for 5 minutes then fold in the chilled whipped cream.

Remove your muffin tin with lace cups from the freezer and divide the mousse between the 12 cups. Refrigerate them for at least 1 or 2 hours until they’re set.

While you’re waiting for your mousse to set make the almond whipped cream. In a large bowl with and electric mixer whip the reserved cream, sugar and almond extract until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve dessert.

Remove your lace cups from the fridge and let them sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes before you carefully pop them out of their plastic wrap shells. Top them with a generous scoop of almond whipped cream and sprinkle them with the toasted almonds. Enjoy!

Can You Dig It?

I have been inspired lately with all these lovely photos of Cherry Clafoutis floating around on the interwebs. I was originally tempted to try one out myself, but I was in the mood for something a little different. Something rich. Something decadent.

Behold the Cherry Brownie Clafoutis!


Ok, so it’s not really a clafoutis by definition, but it is quite awesome in it’s own right.

I had envisioned cooling these little personal brownies then turning them upside down to have them pop out effortlessly into these squiggly cubes of chocolate cherry bliss.

That didn’t happened.

Instead I pounded on the bottom of one ramekin until the heel of my hand hurt. I then proceeded to turn it right side up, grab my spoon and just dig in. That works too. Plus they do look pretty irresistibly darling in these adorable square ramekins.

Cherry Brownie Clafoutis
Makes 6 individual desserts.

Source: Adapted from Joy of Baking’s Brownies.

5 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
30 sweet cherries, pitted

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the center. Spray 6 dessert dishes or ramekins with non stick cooking spray and set them aside on a large baking sheet.

In a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over simmering water melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally. Once it’s melted and smooth take the bowl off the heat and stir in the cocoa powder and sugar using a whisk. Add the vanilla next then the eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition. Finally whisk in the flour and salt until the mixture is smooth.

Scoop the batter into the prepared dishes until each is filled 3/4 of the way. Press 5 or so cherries into each dish and bake them for 25 – 30 minutes until the tops are shiny and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out with only a small amount of batter and moist crumbs clinging to it. Let them cool on a cooling rack for at least 20 minutes before serving if you can stand it. Enjoy!

Nuts About Nuts.

I have recently discovered that pretty much anything is better with toasted almonds. Angel Icebox Dessert, Cherry Almond Cupcakes and Boston Cream Pie to name a few. Let me explain because this is actually quite the revelation in my case.

When I was a kid the only nuts that I liked were of the peanut variety. Yes I know, peanuts are not really considered a nut, but to a seven year old kid they are. I loved peanuts and specifically preferred them honey roasted. All other nuts to me were just those things that got in my way when I dug through the mixed nuts bowl to get to the good stuff. My mom always liked to put chopped pecans in her Chocolate Chip Cookies, which was quite a nuisance for me. In my opinion she was ruining an otherwise perfectly good batch of cookies. Sometimes, if I whined enough, she would make another batch sans nuts which was greatly appreciated.

So when I grew up and started making my own Chocolate Chip Cookies I vowed never to put nuts in them. Well look what’s happened? Nuts galore! And not the peanut variety either, but my new favourite nut. The buttery, melt in your mouth toasted almond. I even paired it with deliciously nutty brown butter. What could be better?

It’s an acquired taste. At least for me. I have matured. I have grown. I have evolved.

I turned your everyday household favourite cookie into something gourmet, fancy and still quite tasty. You can eat it with your pinkies out if it makes you feel any fancier.

Brown Butter Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Source: Adapted from my family recipe.

2 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 1/2 cup flour
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup whole almonds, blanched, chopped and toasted

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In a small sauce pan cook the butter on medium heat for about 6 – 8 minutes until the foam subsides, the butter turns brown and you smell that delicious caramel scent. Remove it from the heat then allow it to cool and harden slightly in a bowl in the refrigerator for 15 – 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the center. Line you baking sheets with parchment paper and set it aside.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, cream together the eggs, sugars, brown butter, baking soda, salt, vanilla and almond extracts. Add the flour and combine it until it’s smooth then mix in the chocolate chips and almonds. The dough will be quite thick.

Scoop a heaping tbsp of batter then roll it into a ball for each cookie and place it on the prepared baking sheet and pat them down slightly with your fingers. Bake them for 10 minutes until the edges are light golden brown. Transfer them to a cooling rack and enjoy!

Swoon.

There are a few specific types of food that it is considered absolutely criminal to dislike. Corn on the cob, for example. It’s in season and it’s on sale at the supermarket by the bin-fulls. I casually yet efficiently weave my cart around that bin and the greedy patrons digging through it all the while carelessly tossing husks on the floor. I have all summer to look forward to awkward social situations where I have to politely say no thank you when they pass the plate of corn on the cob my way. I have all summer to look forward to the shocked and hurt faces around the table when I explain I don’t like corn on the cob. Professing your hate for corn on the cob is like admitting you eat puppies for breakfast.

And then the question. Oh, the question. But why don’t you like corn on the cob, Lindsey? Why does anyone dislike any type of food? Because they don’t like the taste! What do they expect me to say? When I was five my family and I were carjacked at gunpoint by a gang of corn on the cob and ever since then I can’t even look at the stuff without bursting into tears. That’s what I should say. That would catch them off guard. Ask a silly question, get a silly answer.

Then there’s lobster. But why don’t you like lobster, Lindsey? Oh I’m sorry if my personal choice offends you, but I prefer not to look my dinner in the eye while I viciously crack open it’s exoskeleton and eat out it’s insides. Seriously? Is it that hard to understand? It’s like eating an overgrown bug! Then you add insult to injury and dip the poor thing in garlic butter. You know what I think? I think eating lobster is just an excuse to eat an entire stick of butter. That’s all it ever ends up tasting like anyways. Would you like some lobster with your butter? I like my butter on bread, thank you very much.

But then there’s things like these Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting. I would personally be shocked and offended if you told me you hated them. That’s where I draw the line on criminal food aversions. Banana and peanut butter is a match made in heaven. The saltiness of the peanut butter brings out the sweetness of the banana. You bite into one and you just let the flavours combine and compliment in your mouth. Then you swoon and eat another. It’s just that simple.

Banana Cupcakes
Makes a dozen cupcakes.

Source: Martha Stewart’s Banana Cupcakes.

1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup bananas, mashed (about 4)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the middle. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners and set it aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl mix together the mashed bananas, butter, eggs and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir it until it’s all just incorporated making sure not to overmix it.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan filling each 3/4 of the way. Bake them for 20 – 25 minutes until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Transfer them to a cooling rack and let them cool completely before you frost them.

Peanut Butter Frosting

Source: Martha Stewart’s Peanut Butter Frosting.

3/4 cup cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup whipping cream

In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar until it’s smooth. Next mix in the salt, peanut butter and vanilla. At this point it’s going to start looking a little weird and crumbly, but don’t worry. All will be well. Whip the cream until soft peaks form then fold it into the peanut butter mixture until it becomes smooth.

Scoop the frosting into a pastry bag fitted with your favourite tip and frost each cupcake liberally. I used a large star tip. To make a rose as opposed to to traditional swirl start piping in the middle of the cupcake and spiral out. Enjoy!

Good Fences Make Good Neighbours.

You know it’s true. Don’t deny it. Ok, yes there is the odd neighbour here and there that’s not so bad. Maybe you make small talk with them across the street or exchange passing comments about the weather. Maybe they made too many peanut butter cookies one afternoon and delivered some extra to you. Maybe they agreed to pick up your mail while you were gone on vacation and even sorted the bills apart from the flyers.

And maybe, just maybe they really suck. I mean rake their leaves onto your lawn kind of suck. Or park in your reserved space kind of suck. Or even keep their irregular garbage piling up in the back alley that no trash collector will ever touch with a ten foot pole kind of suck. Those neighbours are the kind we build fences for.

Really though, is it so hard to dispose of your old broken mattresses at the dump? Is it too much to ask for people not to pour broken pieces of cement directly onto the road where you have no other option than to drive over it hoping all the while that your tires don’t pop? Is it so difficult to refrain from revving your tired and obviously sick Mustang engine for all the neighbourhood to hear right before you peel out of your driveway? That’s not very neighbourly.

Since when did common courtesy stop being so common? It’s so frustrating because I go out of my way not to offend a perfect stranger even going so far as to inconvenience myself. I’m the person at the grocery store that will wait patiently and without complaint while the person ahead of me takes forever to bag their groceries all the while not moving their cart two inches so that I can get through to bag my own. I’m the person grinding her teeth in her backyard while my neighbours laugh and carry on in their yard with their inebriated friends until 6am. I’m the person that would glare through the peephole at my neighbours while they repeatedly slam the outside door that only needs to be pushed and clicked in place.

Some people really need to consider the piece of mind of others more often before they do something that would disrupt just that. It’s selfish. It’s mean. It’s just plain ignorant. Let’s all try and be a little more enlightened, shall we?

And on that note here are some Cheddar Biscuits that could mend fences.

Cheddar Biscuits
Makes 12 biscuits.

Source: My own imagination.

2 cup flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup salted butter, cold and cubed
2 cup medium cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
1 cup milk
2 tbsp salted butter, melted
1/4 tsp garlic powder

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Note: I serve these with spaghetti and other pastas, but they would pair nicely with just about any meal that included either garlic or cheese.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and position a rack in the center. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper then set it aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, sugar and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Mix in the cheese and green onion. Add half of the milk at first then, after that’s mixed in, add a little bit more milk at a time making sure not to make the dough too wet and sticky since you may or may not need all the milk. The consistency should be that of a soft dough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it 10 – 12 times until it’s smooth and not crumbly. Divide the dough in half and form each half into a rectangular log 9 inches long. With a sharp knife cut 6 squares out of each log of dough and place them evenly spaced on the prepared baking sheet making sure to leave enough room for them to double in size. Bake them for 10 minutes then, just before they’re done baking, mix the melted butter and garlic powder and brush it on top of each biscuit. Bake them for 1 – 2 minutes more until they’re golden brown. Serve them hot or cooled. Enjoy!

Love Muffin: Chocolate Cherry

This is the first post of its kind, one of many to come. I’ve decided to experiment in the wonderful world of muffins once every month or perhaps every two weeks. I love muffins. Don’t you love muffins? It’s cute. It’s muffiny. It’s Love Muffin.

Now with that said I’d like to address a certain someone with whom I am currently quite displeased.

Dear Mother Nature,

What is your problem? For serious.

It’s Spring right? Let me check my calendar. Yes, definitely Spring. Actually, nearly Summer. And what do we have to show for it? A measly week of blessedly warm and perfectly sunny weather. It’s actually snowed at least three times since the first day of Spring and been mostly crappy and cold otherwise.

Do you find it funny to torture innocent Spring loving people? That’s right, Spring is my favourite season or at least it used to be. I’m half expecting the leaves to start turning orange and fall off right before we’re condemned to a dark snowy prison again. Is Summer even coming? Will I ever get to swim and suntan and eat popsicles on the back step again without shivering?

I’d better.

Now I understand you’re very busy controlling the weather all over the world but do you think it would be too much trouble to pay a little more attention to my corner of Canada? I don’t ask for much, just maybe a smidgen more sunshine and a teensy bit less snow. I’ll even make a deal with you. If you give me Spring I promise to complain a little bit less next Winter. I know how whiny I can be. That’s reasonable right?

I think so.

I expect the weather to be different from here on out otherwise I swear I’ll relentlessly pollute the ozone or something. No I’m kidding. I wouldn’t do that, but maybe I’d stop using reusable bags and start using those horrible plastic ones when I do my grocery shopping. Remind me again, they take how many eons to decompose? Yeah, you wouldn’t like that would you? I don’t have to as long as you cooperate. Nobody has to get hurt.

I’m glad we had this little chat. I hope we can continue to be friends.

Sincerely your biggest fan,

Lindsey

Ok, now less crazy and more muffins!



Chocolate Cherry Love Muffins

Makes about 18 muffins.

Source: My own imagination.

3 cup flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup sweet cherries, pitted and rough chopped
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and position a rack in the center. Line a muffin tin with muffin liners.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt then set it aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla until it’s light a fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until each is just incorporated. Alternate the addition of milk and the dry ingredients by thirds, making sure not to over mix each addition. Finally add the chocolate chips and chopped cherries and mix it in lightly.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin and fill each nearly to the brim of the liner and then sprinkle each liberally with turbinado sugar. Bake them for 15 – 20 minutes until the tops are a nice golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Transfer them to a cooling rack and enjoy!